Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wolitzer's The Interestings

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
(Dreamscape Audio, 2013)
Format: audio CD via library (narrated by Jen Tullock)

From Goodreads: The creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel one through life at age thirty, and in adulthood not everyone can sustain what seemed to be their adolescent specialness. Jules Handler, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. But her two best friends, now married to each other, become shockingly successful - true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure, but Jules begins to harbor a suppressed envy that grows year after year, causing her great shame. How can she be envious of the people she loves most in life - the people who have always loved her, too?"

A bunch of privileged artsy white kids who escape the doldrums of life in Manhattan for a few weeks of summer camp, where they can put on plays and live in “teepees” and self-express to their little hearts’ content? Yay. I mean, they christen themselves “The Interestings,” and no matter how ironically they phrase it, you know they actually believe it, right?

So indeed, let’s follow them as they become successful (or sometimes not) adults and constantly hearken back to the good old days in the dining halls and re-enact their teenage passions.

No. I mean it. Let’s do. These people will get under your skin so immediately, and stick with you long after you reach ‘the end.’ Ash and her brother will enrage but engage you, and Jonas will break your heart, and Ethan will call to your soul, while Jules is the magnetic north of them all, the point to which they all unknowingly gravitate. Wolitzer pulls the threads together, teases them apart, and ties them into knots as the campers head off into the tragedies and triumphs of their adult lives. Unexpected connections that unexpectedly feel right, small moments that lodge like the tiniest, sharpest of pebbles in your shoe, until they grow to be giant irritants. She’s a master of deliberate construction.

Tullock captured Jules’s uncertain teen voice and let it subtly grow to an adult version, better at hiding insecurity and understanding the patterns of the world around her. I’ve not heard her narration before, but enjoyed her immersion in the text and ability to differentiate many characters and emotions. I’d definitely enjoy more audio titles from her. 

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